Strategies for developing sustainable high-performing teams
Johnson Wong Voon Ping’s guide to helping your team hit the heights.
Reading time: 4 minutes
High-performing teams are one of the major ingredients for an organisation’s sustainable competitive advantage. Not only do they contribute to organisational goals, but their team members embrace the daily challenges to solve problems.
They are adaptable to new initiatives and thrive in challenges where they are more likely to contribute to a culture of innovation.
The following are some strategies for leaders to build an engaged and high-performing team, thereby creating an innovative organisation.
Developing team performance
There are several excellent techniques to activate team performance.
1. Adopt a buddy system
The objective of the buddy system is three-pronged:
- Pair an expert staff member with an inexperienced one to close the learning gap. This will make the team stronger in overall performance.
- Team up complementary skillsets to solve problems faster than via individuals working in silos.
- Gather people from different backgrounds (to promote diversity of thought) to ignite creativity and overcome fixed mindsets.
Buddies should not last forever; rotate members through the pairing-up process with a pre-determined timeline. These rotations enable members to solve problems more effectively and develop bonds across the organisation.
In the world of work, not all teams are created equally; some teams are higher performing than others
2. Role modelling
How you perform relates closely to the way your team performs. Walk the talk. Leaders need to understand and articulate how the team delivers the performance that drives the organisation’s culture.
The company’s brand is nothing more than a reflection of culture; and culture is a reflection of team members’ actions which, in turn, mirror what comes from their leader.
No detail is too small when modelling the way for the organisation, and the leader’s actions are under a microscope.
3. Caring leads to team’s proactiveness
The goal is getting team members to know that the leader is there when they are in need and will keep them focused on caring for each other and achieving the team tasks.
It takes time, transparency, empathy and thoughtfulness for leaders to earn the trust of team members. Once, the team’s trust is established, members will naturally become more proactive and demonstrate a willingness to go beyond the call of duty.
Seek ways to connect with team members to understand their challenges and pressures, not only during the work day but also take an interest in their personal lives.
4. Provide opportunities for teams to tackle challenges
Challenges are an integral part of development for everyone. Team members can’t grow if they are constantly doing what they have always done. Let them develop new skills by providing challenging tasks or problems.
At the same time, leaders need to make sure the tasks are achievable, in the frame of the team’s interests, and that the necessary resources are made accessible.
5. Empower the team – offer them ‘real’ independence
The instinct that people crave is freedom – in work and life in general. Autonomy is a core human need and several research studies have shown that workers who have more autonomy are happier, healthier and more productive.
Autonomy is one way for leaders to demonstrate real trust. In the autonomous team, members experience less emotional exhaustion, are more engaged in active learning and achieve higher performance.
6. Provide conditions for teams to grow and innovate
- Invest time and resources
Leaders need to work with their teams to develop and communicate goals that are aligned to business outcomes. They need to regularly communicate and receive feedback about their performance progress, and how team development activities increase their work performances.
Performance support tools provide teams with on-demand assistance and help to remove ambiguity, which reduces or eliminates chances of error while completing projects. At the same time, they reinforcelearning that is applied on the job
- Incorporate innovation channels and supporting resources
Initiate learning circles that promote the generation of ideas, sharing of expertise and practices that have flourished, and redesign new ways of work or possible leads to innovation.
Concurrently, leaders can leverage virtual platforms like Slack, Padlet or other e-canvas tools to increase team collaborations.
- Enhance motivation structures
Leaders should actively praise team members who are making good progress. Giving recognition in that precise moment leads to a positive impact on the team’s motivation. Leaders can also adopt creative thinking tools and technology to integrate gamification of work and activate teams to contribute to organisational growth and innovation.
Leaders can use the strategies and techniques described to help teams become empowered to perform, solve problems, innovate and drive lasting change for their organisation.
They should find more opportunities to coach each team member at their points of learning needs. Those crucial moments occur when team members are learning something new for the first time, adapting to work changes and solving problems.
Nurturing high-performing teams requires time, effort and commitment from all stakeholders. Nevertheless, leaders need to use what works for their team and focus on investing time and resources in creating sustainable winning teams.
About the author
Johnson Wong is a learning strategist and director of Empower Training and Consultancy Pte Ltd.
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